TenneT: “Storage is needed”

What is the future for grid-scale energy storage in Europe? We ask the Netherlands TSO TenneT, a key speaker at Commercialising Grid-Scale Energy Storage Global Congress 2015. Photo credit: TenneT

What is the future for grid-scale energy storage in Europe? We ask the Netherlands TSO TenneT, a speaker at Commercialising Grid-Scale Energy Storage Global Congress. Photo: TenneT

Previously published by Commercialising Grid-Scale Energy Storage Global Congress 2015. Republished with permission.

If you’re wondering what the future holds for grid-scale energy storage in Europe then it helps to speak to the people who run Europe’s grids.

That includes organisations such as TenneT, the independent owner and operator of 100% of the high-voltage electricity grid in the Netherlands and around 30% of the high-voltage grid in Germany.

As a Transmission System Operator (TSO), TenneT’s principal tasks are to provide power transmission and system services and facilitate the functioning and development of the electricity market.

At the end of 2014, TenneT, which is currently 100% owned by the state of the Netherlands, owned around €13.7bn of assets, of which 15% are located in the Netherlands and 85% in Germany.

Here Bianca van Ommen, of TenneT’s mergers and acquisitions business development unit, talks about the role that energy storage could play in the TSO’s future operations.

How do you see the state of today’s energy storage applications and technologies evolving?

A number of trends are rapidly changing the Northwest European energy landscape.

The European electricity market is becoming increasingly integrated, with more cross-border flows taking place and the European Union playing a more central role in governance and policy-making.

The push for sustainability and energy independence is driving large-scale adoption of renewable energy supply, mostly solar and wind. At the same time, distributed generation is displacing demand for central power production.

Consumers are playing a more active role in electricity management, with some consumers becoming prosumers.

As a result, the grid is fundamentally changing from a centralised, one-way distribution system, to a two-way decentralised network and centralised production existing alongside.

Growth in electricity demand is stagnating, especially in Germany, on the back of stringent energy saving initiatives. Moreover, solar supply is reducing or even reversing the traditional peak-base spreads.

Combined with currently relative price-inelastic demand for electricity, this leads to highly volatile price patterns. Technological developments are further disrupting the markets.

Solar PV has already reached grid parity in Germany and is the fastest growing power source in Northwest Europe.

Also, the rise of electric vehicles and developments in energy storage together with advances in data and IT will drastically change the way consumers manage and consume electricity.

The combinations of different technological developments will prove disruptive to the electricity market. As a result, the type and scope of market participants is changing.

Whereas traditional players are struggling to adapt to the changing energy environment, new players and business models such as virtual power plants, aggregators and prosumers are emerging, tapping into new sources of value.

TSOs have to become more agile and flexible to adapt to the rapid changes in the energy environment.

This requires a change of focus from technology to understanding market demands, achieving social acceptance, aligning with national and European Union stakeholders and becoming more transparent and efficient.

What is the strategic vision of your company for battery-based energy storage projects?

Our society has decided on the large-scale introduction of renewable energy, the generation of which has changed the dynamics of supply.

At the same time, the dependence on electricity increases further, which demands continuous reliability levels. To cope with these developments, the European electricity market needs to become more integrated.

Sound market design, technical and operational innovation, storage solutions and adequate grid capacity are all required to continue to match supply and demand across borders.

TenneT is convinced that further storage development is needed to enable a reliable energy supply with the targeted large-scale introduction of renewables.

In line with the TenneT strategy to build up knowledge and experience for predictable developments, TenneT principally supports storage innovation initiatives in line with the regulatory rules.

How do you establish a clear business case for integration of energy storage applications and solutions?

A business case provides justification for a proposed business change or plan.

A successfully presented business case can act as an impetus for moving forward with a new, alternative plan of action, or it may simply provide a consistent message, or unified vision for future business decisions.

In our opinion, a well-drafted business case will expose major or implementable solutions for energy storage applications. Our vision is to closely follow price-technology developments in other markets.

What are the timescales your company is working towards when moving from energy storage pilot projects to live projects?

At this moment, being a TSO means TenneT is not allowed to invest in energy storage. Therefore, we are not developing any time scales.

However, TenneT works together with several parties and investigates related pilot projects in order to gain required knowledge and experience of new energy storage technologies.

What is going to be the highlight of your presentation at the Grid-Scale Energy Storage 2015 Congress in London?

We live in a dynamic and ever-changing environment. Nowadays, energy storage is a hot topic and will definitely play an important role for grid support in the future.

However, this will be not the only technological development in the future energy system. Our presentation will give insight in the upcoming trends in the energy system. We are looking from a TSO perspective to energy storage.

As the first cross-border TSO of Europe, TenneT plays a pivotal role in a sector that affects society at many levels. One of the roles is to maintain the grid reliability.

Developments in energy storage together with advances in data and IT will drastically change the way consumers manage and consume electricity.

There is a lot of attention for storage already and it is important to keep momentum, to work on economies of scale even in a global environment, and to learn across Europe.

  • Commercialising Grid-Scale Energy Storage Global Congress 2015 takes place in London, UK, on November 25 and 26. Save 15% on your pass with our exclusive reader discount code, ESR15, when you register.

2 thoughts on “TenneT: “Storage is needed”

  1. Often discussed are baterries for energy storage. How’s about P2G? No chance for P2G, or otherwise, what could be the driver?

    • Many thanks for your comment; that’s a very good point. Japan seems a lot more advanced than anywhere else in terms of the development of a hydrogen economy, although we are aware of small-scale schemes in the US and UK. I suspect the general focus on battery storage rather than power-to-gas is a result of commercial rather than technological factors; right now there are massive commercial interests behind the battery business, but very little industrial muscle backing hydrogen for energy storage or automotive applications. It would be good to know what our other readers think.

      – Jason

Let us know what you think. Please leave a comment.